Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is most notably used in the treatment of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. But in truth, ALL children experience problem behaviors at some point in their lives - from the “terrible twos” to the rebellious teen years. This blog is designed to provide an overview of ABA and how it can be a useful tool for typically developing children, teenagers, and even your husband;)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What is Behavior?

Behavior is the activity of living organisms - the interaction between an organism and its environment. Human behavior includes those that we cannot directly see - thinking and feeling.  If you're unsure whether or not something is a "behavior" then you should apply the "Dead Man's test":  If a dead man can do it, it's not behavior. And if a dead man can't do it, then it is behavior. 

Behavior can be thought of in two ways: operant and respondent behavior.  In short, operant behavior "operates" on the environment and respondent behavior is "in response" to an environmental stimulus.  In order for a respondent behavior to occur, some environmental change must happen first.  For example, when I open a jar of jalepenos and get a whiff (environmental change), my salivary glands go crazy (respondent behavior).  In essence, a respondent behavior is a reflex.  When an operant behavior occurs, a change in the environment happens after the behavior occurs.  For example, when my daughter says "done" (operant behavior) at the dinner table, I remove her dinner plate (environmental change).

Behavior Analysis deals with both operant and respondent behavior; however, applied behavior analysis is most often concerned with operant behavior and this will be the focus of my blog.


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